One of the great foodie cities of the country, I knew finding some delicious bites wouldn’t be the problem on my recent visit to Savannah, but how to narrow it down for what was really a brief visit. Centuries of multiculturalism have come together to create a truly unique cuisine but one that somehow also instantly feels familiar and even homey. There’s a lot to love about the Savannah, Georgia food scene but these were my own favorite and even unexpected culinary moments.
Savannah Food Tour
My favorite way to first experience any new city is on a food tour, whether I’m in Bologna, Helsinki or Savannah. Not only are food tours inherently fun, they’re informative. When one learns about a local cuisine along with it comes a crash course into the history and culture of a destination since food is an integral aspect of both. Savannah Taste Experience is the only tour company in the city solely focused on food and culinary heritage and they offer a variety of different tour options. Since it was my first time though I went with their classic tour through the city, the First Squares Food Tour.
With COVID-era precautions in place, I joined the small group as we began our easy walk through some of the city’s most beautiful and iconic squares and tree-lined streets. Along the way of course we stopped several times to sample great local fare and learn about the city’s impressive history in the process. I never like to give away all of the secrets of a food tour, but I will say that one of my favorite stops was at The Little Crown where I unexpectedly tried a great British meat pie. While it may seem strange to sample on a Savannah food tour, it points to the ever-shifting landscape of the food scene that is thankfully continuing to change and evolve.
Brunch with Style
Located in Savannah’s Historic District, B. Matthew’s Eatery is a one-of-a-kind bistro and is one of those places locals try to keep to themselves, but lucky visitors like me are always eager to discover. What started out as a casual deli and bakery has since evolved into a full-service establishment that elevates some incredible classic American dishes through the use of superior ingredients and an obvious love of the craft. The menus for all mealtimes look amazing, but brunch was the perfect match for me and my own love of a great breakfast. Nearly impossible to narrow down my choices, I went with the traditional sourdough French Toast. My only regret of course was being unable to try everything on the menu, but now I have many more reasons to return.
Historic Ice Cream
Visiting one of the country’s most famous ice cream parlors was not on my original to-do list, but as soon as I found out about Leopold’s I couldn’t resist a stop. Founded in 1919 by three brothers from Greece, their unique recipes and downtown location instantly hooked Savannah residents in search of a sweet treat. Since then generations of Savannahians have grown up on Leopold’s and the ice cream even has some famous connections. Lyricist Johnny Mercer grew up patronizing Leopold’s and was so inspired by their famous Tutti Fruiti ice cream, that he wrote the now famous song about the scoop. Today their super-premium ice cream is still hand crafted in historic downtown Savannah using those original recipes but if you want to enjoy a few scoops as I did be prepared to wait; lines are common for what truly is some of the best ice cream you’ll ever try.
Plant River District
By the turn of the 20th century Savannah was worried about keeping up with electricity demand and so in 1912 a power plant was built along the river which fueled the city’s growth until its decommissioning in 2005. Thankfully this incredible location wasn’t allowed to be left fallow for long and since then it was been reimagined into a fabulous new hospitality destination that embraces its impressive past in every way. The Plant Riverside District combines great restaurants and shops into a beautiful almost steampunk aesthetic and at its heart is the stunning new JW Marriott. Whether it’s a meal at one of the hotel’s incredible restaurants, or something more casual along the waterfront, it’s impossible to go wrong in Savannah’s newest hotspot.
There are few spots for a nightcap that I enjoy more than a fun Tiki Bar. There’s just something about the ambiance and 50s-era kitsch that draws me in, which is how I found myself in one of the country’s best – the Bamboo Room Tiki Bar. Located above the well-known restaurant Sorry Charlie’s in historic Savannah, the Bamboo Room is an immersive, exotic tropical hideaway. The design of The Bamboo Room features a collection of artifacts sourced from around the globe, personal collections, and hand-carved one of a kind items and trim. Just as important is the cocktail menu and it shines with a mix of classic tiki drinks and new ones invented just for the Bamboo Room. Spending some time here was another unexpected highlight and a fun way for anyone to either start or end an evening out.